Was This Steve Jobs Order Intended to Punish Amazon?

Steve_JobsThe U.S. Department of Justice accused former Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) CEO Steve Jobs of specifically implementing an App Store rule in order “to retaliate against Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) for competitive conduct” in its recently submitted revised injunction proposal. The allegation centers on an in-app purchasing rule change that prevented third-party vendors from being able to direct consumers to websites outside of the app.

The evidence for the Department of Justice’s accusation comes from an email that Jobs sent to Apple executive Phil Schiller. Jobs’s order was given after Schiller emailed the Apple CEO to bring an Amazon Kindle advertisement to his attention.

“While the primary message [of the ad] is that there are Kindle apps on lots of mobile devices, the secondary message that can’t be missed is that it is easy to switch from iPhone to Android,” wrote Schiller to Jobs. “Not fun to watch,” he added.

In response, Jobs wrote, “The first step might be to say that they must use our payment system for everything, including books (triggered by the newspapers and magazines). If they want to compare us to Android, let’s force them to use our far superior payment system. Thoughts?”

This appears to be solid proof that Jobs was initiating a policy change in order to retaliate against Amazon’s legal competitive conduct. The government notes that the effect of this rule change “was to make it more difficult for consumers using Apple devices to compare e-book prices among different retailers, and for consumers to purchase e-books from other retailers on Apple’s devices.”

Here’s how Apple has traded over the past week.

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Follow Nathanael on Twitter (@ArnoldEtan_WSCS)

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